A rtistic passion can erupt at any moment, even in a college class.
Sarah Shoot, the Alliance Art Gallery’s September guest artist, discovered that while taking a fiber arts class at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill.
Working with paper and cloth, she began to “collage her way” into a whole new career — full-time artist rather than art teacher. Winning her first award from a well-respected judge in a juried show provided the tipping point.
As Shoot recalls, she told herself, “I’m going to go for it. That’s what I’m going to do.” And since 2000, that’s precisely what she’s done.
Not surprisingly, one medium led to another. Today she works with fiber, paper, found objects and metal, creating both two-dimensional pieces and three-dimensional pieces. And the act of repurposing itself can sometimes become repurposed. Popping a piece of metal off a barn, she saw its potential as jewelry, thus opening a whole new avenue for her art.
The daughter of a talented crafter, as a child Shoot often found herself in her mother’s and aunt’s craft booths at fairs. Though she arranged flowers in 4-H Club, no spark ignited until that intoxicating college moment.
Today she lives with her husband and two daughters on a five-acre sustainable farm with free-ranging chickens and turkeys. She shows up regularly at the local farmers market with organic produce, poultry, eggs, baked goods and — of course — art.
As she says, “I am not a perfectionist. My work has a real chaotic side to it, abstract, organic, rough.”
As her collages have evolved, she admits, “I am also drawn to color, bright color, but I balance it with fabrics like tea-dyed silk to bring earthiness.”
The results often strike the viewer as playful, whimsical, unique and — yes — colorful. She seems to take the real world, twist it a bit, add a hint of laughter and create a piece that delights the heart.
Over the years, she has exhibited and continues to exhibit in galleries and shows in Columbia, New Harmony, Springfield, Chicago and Paducah, Ky., among other places. Recently she arranged a wholesale agreement in Door County, Wis.
The Alliance Gallery featured member artist J. Barry Wright remembers receiving his first camera at age 20.
Wright never let go of his instant fascination with images, eventually receiving a master’s degree from the Professional Photographers of America. Working with both color and black-and-white images, Wright focuses on the unexpected, the unusual in the ordinary, the singular. What he captures, in and of itself, often brings gallery visitors to a complete halt, so drawn in are they to his work.
Wright explains, “I think that one of the reasons I find photography so appealing is that each image is real and a snippet of beauty taken from actual live surroundings.”
He adds with a laugh: “And quite possibly the fact I could not draw to save my life.”
The unique aspect that Wright adds rests in his subtle enhancements, moving a real-life photograph, often of an ordinary image, into unique artistic expression.
Having lived in New Mexico, Minnesota, Kansas and now Missouri, he detects the beauty beneath the seeming “Midwest ordinary.” It might be a singular leaf, an abandoned cemetery, a salamander, stunning clouds towering over a building, rusting cars or an aging staircase circling into a roofless sky past paneless windows.
Once a portrait photographer, today Wright follows dirt and gravel roads to out-of-the-way places, constantly seeking a way to see the world, particularly the Midwest, through the lens of his camera, bringing it back for us to enjoy. n
An opening reception will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, September 10. A photograph by J. Barry Wright will be given away in a free drawing at 6 p.m. The reception coincides with Hannibal’s Second Saturday Gallery Night.
More information is available at Alliance Art Gallery, 112 N. Main, by visiting allianceartgallery.com or calling 573-221-2275. n